To kindy and beyond

How Better Rehab’s superstar Behaviour Support Practitioner helped Garrett thrive in mainstream schooling.

Coping with the demands of mainstream primary school, such as making friends, following teachers’ instructions and managing personal hygiene, can be a challenge for any young child. However, when coping with Global Developmental Delay, Autism Spectrum Disorder (L3), and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), like young Better Rehab participant Garrett, the journey becomes more challenging.

When our Canberra-based Behaviour Support Practitioner Katrina ‘Kat’ White first met Garrett, he had a few behaviours that were impacting both his home life and his chance of attending mainstream school.

These behaviours included difficulties socialising with same-age peers, focusing, and tolerating change or unpreferred outcomes, as well as sensory avoidance, rigid thinking, and excessive energy and activity. As Garrett’s mother Mel explains, “We were told that he would probably be best in a special needs school. But Kat knew we wanted to try to give him a chance at mainstream school.”
Which is what she did.

Setting goals for success

Kat designed a personalised program for Garrett with several goals in mind, including reducing Garrett’s outburst behaviour, improving his communication abilities, enhancing his coping and social skills, and helping him develop meaningful friendships.

She also involved Garrett’s parents in the program, equipping them with preventative and reactive strategies to address his tension and behavioural challenges at home.

Giving Garrett the right skills

Kat employed various strategies to help Garrett achieve these goals, tailored to both his challenges and his many positive personal attributes, including his energy, sense of humour and willingness to learn new ways of approaching life. “He has never let his diagnoses or additional medical conditions stop him from leaving a positive imprint on everyone he meets,” she says.

Kat’s strategies included giving Garrett self-regulation skills to use when he felt uncomfortable or stressed to help reduce his outbursts and working one-on-one to improve his understanding of social interactions and responses to different ‘trigger’ situations, such as when peers are upset or need help. Reward systems, redirection from stress-triggered behaviours, and resources for increasing flexibility and tolerance were also used to support his progress.

Celebrating achievements

Now, Garrett effectively communicates how he is feeling in uncomfortable situations, engages well with his peers, has made several friendships and is independent with toileting. He has even offered his help and encouraging words to his classmates during difficult tasks, even though the same tasks often trigger him.

Ultimately, Katrina’s program has helped Garrett cope better with the demands of everyday life, and most importantly, mainstream school, where he has exceeded all expectations during his transition from Preschool to Kindy and from Kindy to Year 1. As mum Mel says, Garrett is “kicking goals”.

In addition to mainstream school, Garrett has joined a karate class. “Although the first session was difficult, he came back for the second session and tried his hardest, which resulted in a Certificate of Achievement!” says Katrina proudly, adding that it is now Garrett who regularly prompts his family to engage in self-regulation strategies.

Pleased and proud parents

Garrett’s parents are appreciative of Katrina’s support and understanding. “Kat is very experienced and professional in her role and has made such a huge different with Garrett, not only assisting him to become more independent in his day-to-day activities and helping him with his behaviour and self-regulations skills, but also with being able to form and keep friendships.

“We could not be more pleased with the services Katrina and Better Rehab have provided. Kat has formed a great connection with Garrett. He trusts her completely and feels very comfortable when she is supporting him. He is even sad when he has had to miss a therapy session. We don’t just look at Kat as Garrett’s Therapist, but now part of the family,” says Mel.

Want to connect with Better Rehab’s superstar Behaviour Support Practitioners?

Send an email to our friendly admin team at or call 1300 0 REHAB (1300 073 422)

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